By Nat Shirley
Friday, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 3:14 pm
 

Given Toyota's penchant for placing hybrid powertrains in nearly every one of its models, it came as a something of a surprise that the new RAV4 debuted earlier this week at the Los Angeles auto show without a gas-electric option.

While a RAV4 Hybrid definitely won't be available at launch, RAV4 Deputy Chief Engineer Yoshikazu Saeki has revealed to Auto Express that such a model is a possibility for the future, and that Toyota is keeping a close eye on the market to gauge whether consumers would be interested.

The most likely powertrain for a hybrid-ized RAV4 is the setup used by the Camry (among other models), which combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder - nearly the same engine fitted to the standard 2013 RAV4 - with an electric motor for a total system output of 200 horespower.

Recent rumors have suggested that Toyota is considering an e-4WD system for the next Prius, which could also be a good fit for a RAV4 Hybrid. The e-4WD would reportedly employ an electric motor to power the rear wheels for extra traction in slippery low-speed situations.

Even if Toyota decides right away that there's demand for a RAV4 Hybrid , expect it to take the automaker at least a year or two to bring the crossover to the market.